Thursday, October 31, 2013

Through the mirror of our dreams, lurks the nightmare of the right.

                In 2011 the newly elected Ohio Governor, John Kasich moved quickly to push his agenda into reality. Like George Bush in 2008, Kasich felt a less than two point victory was a mandate to burn down the status quo and build a conservative utopia.

Kasich and the Tea Party dominated GOP ran on Jobs. Obviously Ohio's economy tanking during the worst financial crisis since the Depression was the fault of Ohio's Democratic Governor. It was as if we existed in a bubble apart from the rest of the nation and if we imposed GOP slash and burn policies all would be right with the world.

Kasich hit the ground running. His first budget gutted the social safety net and education spending.It slashed State support for municipalities. He eviscerated the State payroll. They cut taxes. Kasich and the Legislature then went after the main reasons Ohio suffered through the massive recession. Abortion and Public Sector Unions.

On March 31,2011 Ohio Senate bill 5 was signed into law about two months after the GOP took over. Very fast work on such a sweeping and unprecedented bill. Both Houses slanted testimony in Committee,  and ignored or vilified the sea of opposition outside the Statehouse. Ohio, like Wisconsin became a hub of push back by emboldened Tea Party/Republicans. SB5 garnered national attention from the press, It became a cause on both sides of the political spectrum. 

So as not to seem like an over reaction let's look at the GOP's "common sense" bill.

SB5 gutted the bargaining rights of Public Sector Unions that had been recognized by both sides for decades. Public Safety employees (Police and Fire), could no longer bargain over safety issues, health care, pensions, raises, sick pay and the grievance procedure. It forbade strikes and eliminated the mediation process. Basically if no compromise could be found, the last offer by the employer was adopted. So much for good faith bargaining. It also eliminated deducting union dues from payroll. It changed the rules for decertifying a Union.  


It did the same to teachers and added other items prohibited from bargaining. Like, class size, leave, compensation, educational standards and practices. 

This bill essentially made traditional bargaining illegal for Public Sector workers.

The Republicans were so sure of their power they actually thought starting a war with organized labor was a good idea and winnable. It was a blatant attempt to kneecap the Ohio Democratic party by eliminating a major ally.

Labor was ready. All during the run up towards the bill there were huge protests at the Statehouse. Members from all over Ohio attended and lent their voices in opposition. The day the bill was signed a petition drive was launched to for a repeal by ballot.

The Unions put all their muscle into this fight.The petitions were delivered to the Secretary of State with 1.3 million signatures, far above the number needed. There was immediately an attempt to rig the vote by trying for very confusing ballot language.Secretary of State Husted quashed that attempt as did the courts.They tried to break it up into three separate ballot issues. That also failed. 

Kasich and company were sure they could portray the Public Sector Unions as takers crushing government with exorbitant pay and benefits.Thugs holding the public hostage. What the forgot in their gleeful hatred was nearly everyone knew a teacher, a cop, a firefighter. They were friends, neighbors and relatives. People realized these were hard working people and not union thugs bent on ruining Ohio.

Massive of amounts of out of state money flooded in to fight the ballot issue.GOP Presidential hopefuls Mitt Romney and Rick Perry came to Ohio and supported Kasich. The usual right wing groups poured millions into the State. A GOP lobbyist I know told me defeating the the Ballot issue was only a matter of educating the electorate on how it was needed and reasonable. He told me this as polling showed a massive loss coming the GOPs way.

In August of 2011, looking at polls showing a major ass whipping on the horizon, Kasicih tried to negotiate The answer was a resounding no. Thus we saw ads and talking points about the liberals refusing to negotiate. Sound familiar? A seemingly standard Republican response anymore.

In 1958 Ohio Republicans tried to get a Right to Work ballot measure passed. At the time Ohio was a manufacturing powerhouse and very unionized. The Republicans got their asses handed to them. 63%to 37%. In 2013, with union power down Ohio defeated Issue 2 (SB5 repeal) 61%-39%. 

While this was happening Ohio Republicans also tried to pass the Heartbeat bill to challenge Roe v Wade. It died in the State Senate. 

2012 ended with President Obama bitch slapping Mitt romney and Ohio handed PBO another term. So, Ohio decided to pass some of the worst anti abortion laws in the nation. They slid them through in a budget bill to avoid another ballot embarrassment.There is also an attempt to make Ohio a Right To Work State. Kasich wants that to wait till after his reelection in 2014. He isn't in the mood to have another brawl with labor.Everyone who opposed SB5 knew unions were the target and another attack would come.

So, in spite of everything Ohio seems determined to try to out Texas Texas as if that is a laudable goal. Kasich is trying to reel in the Tea Party so as not to derail his presidential aspirations in 2016.Since John has expanded Medicaid he is under attack from the Right.We Ohioans can expect more attacks on women and the poor as he prepares his run. 

Ohio wants to be Texas North. We are in the press too much as a home of voter suppression, subjugation of women, attacks on education and all the attempts to establish a Tea Party utopia.

Ohio wants to be special. We are just misguided and not the sane, moderate State we once were. I miss that Ohio.

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